Jim Mora Reloaded: Week 18 Preview

By Ron Johnson

How does one prepare for the biggest weekend in sports history? They grab a cold one, a loved one, a group of peoples, go to the pub and unleash the fury. With Saturday and Sunday belonging to the NFL, and Monday belonging solely to the National Championship, you cannot go anywhere without getting a good taste of football…unless you’re that official that botched up Detroit’s win last weekend. 

You, my frenemy, deserve the infamous “Longest Yard” Treatment.

Slugfest Saturday with Sprinkles of Playoff Feels

Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore

The Steelers are in control of their own destiny. The scary part of this is that it took getting humiliated in public for them to step their game up in bunches. Now they find themselves with the foot in between the door hoping to get the invite to the Postseason Party. Standing in their way is the AFC’s Alpha Dog, the Baltimore Ravens. With the top seed already locked, we shouldn’t see many sightings of the starters for Baltimore. And most cases, that would be a good thing, but if you’ve seen the Ravens second stringers, then you already know that this could be catastrophic for the Steelers’ playoff hopes. Can Rudolph guide the Steelers to the postseason? Or will the Ravens put the final nail in the coffin known as Mike Tomlin’s coaching time with Pittsburgh?

Houston vs. Indianapolis 

The assignment is simple: Win and you’re in. No caveat necessary on this one. For these two teams, this is a shocking moment for all. A year ago, both teams were the punchlines of every joke in the league. Now, they both find themselves on the brink of the postseason. It is a shootout the world has been waiting for, and I’m all for it. For the Texans, C.J. Stroud is going to share Offensive Rookie of the Year honors with Puka Nacua. DeMeco Ryans will most likely win Coach of the Year. For the Colts, you got to love this team’s journey. After losing their rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, early in the season, they put the ball in Gardner Minshew’s hands and never looked back. Now both teams have a shot at heading to the playoffs, and one of them does have an outside shot at the AFC South since Jacksonville finally found a pair and bounced back last week.

Slobberknocker Sunday with Extra Postseason Berths

Tampa Bay vs. Carolina

The Panthers have nothing to play for. They don’t have the first pick in the draft, their coaching carousel is still going around and around, plus on top of this, no one is going to their games even with a 90% discount on tickets! But today might be a day in which the stadium may be filled again…just not with Panthers Fans. The Buccaneers only need to win this game in order to punch their ticket to the postseason. As of now, they are in control of the NFC South despite the loss last week to New Orleans. However, a loss to the Panthers keeps the door open for New Orleans to swoop in and snatch the division if they can outlast Atlanta later in the day. It’s straight simple for Tampa Bay: Win and you’re in. Lose and keep your head down. 

Cleveland vs. Cincinnati

The Bengals are out of the playoff hunt, which was something we all figured was going to happen when Joe Burrow went down. Jake Browning did his best to keep them in the fight, but the fact was this: The Bengals are obsolete without Burrow under center. The best thing they can do today is beat a Cleveland team that is already in the postseason. For the Browns, they can’t get any better than where they are, but for the Bengals, they have a chance at history on Sunday. If the Bengals manage to win, they finish 9-8. This also means the AFC North would be the first division since the AFL-NFL merger to have EVERY single team finish above .500. Just a little more motivation for those putting on the Bengal stripes on Sunday.

Minnesota vs. Detroit

There is nothing more ironic than knowing that you got stomped out by your division rival a week ago, and seven days later, you still got a shot at the playoffs. That’s the life of the Minnesota Vikings at this point. After losing Kirk Cousins due to the Aaron Rodgers Disorder (aka Achilles injury or fragile and ridiculous), they thought that Dobbs was going to be the savior. Now they need help this offseason, but that help is not coming today. They have a very angry, very irate, highly PO’d Detroit Lions squad that already has their ticket punched for the postseason but now has a vendetta against every single zebra on the field (aka referees). After getting screwed by the refs in Dallas, the sympathy I have for them is nonexistent. As I said in the intro, they all deserve that “Longest Yard” Treatment.

NY Jets vs. New England

In what can only be described as lackluster, we come to the end of the Jets season and the End of an Era in Foxboro. Aaron Rodgers gets to properly say goodbye to Bill Belichick as The Sweater takes the field for the final time as head coach of the Patriots. While I can draw this one out for all the right reasons, there is no point. Rodgers isn’t playing, and the only reason anyone is going to pay attention to this game is because it’s Belichick’s Swan Song before the rumors start flying around about his next destination.

Atlanta vs. New Orleans

When we said that the NFC South was the new NFC LEast, we were not kidding. Three out of the four teams in this division have a shot at the division crown and the playoffs…and they are all either at or below .500. For this game, the Saints are liking their chances due to Derek Carr finally getting his swagger back at the right time. A win for the Saints along with a loss by Tampa Bay gives New Orleans the South and a playoff spot. But what if the Saints and Bucs both lose? This could be one of those Matt Ryan moments waiting to happen as the Falcons can swoop in and get the division and playoff spot as well. The NFC South Champion with a losing record to go along with it? Sounds very much like the NFC LEast to me.

Jacksonville vs. Tennessee

For Jacksonville it all comes down to this moment. After a tumultuous season, they can finish strong and lay claim to the AFC South with a win over the lowly Titans. There is a chance that this could be both Mike Vrabel and Derrick Henry’s last game as a member of Tennessee. Vrabel has been linked to replace his former coach, and Henry most likely wants to win a Super Bowl before he finally retires. For Jacksonville it is simple: go in as division champs or wild card. Either way, they’re playing next weekend. But going into the playoffs on a loss? I wouldn’t recommend it.

Seattle vs. Arizona

Chicago vs. Green Bay

The Packers need this win to lock in a playoff spot. The Packers could find solace in knowing they got into the playoffs, and their former QB didn’t even make it to the end of the season. The Bears know this as well, and they are chomping at the bit at the thought of beating the Packers in Green Bay and costing them a playoff spot. Imagine if you will Jordan Love losing to Justin Fields. Imagine the Bears beating the Packers without Khalil Mack. Imagine Packers Country losing their minds at the thought of the Bears beating Green Bay. The scenario is not that farfetched. 

Kansas City vs. LA Chargers


The Chiefs have locked up the AFC West Title, and the Chargers are just trying to win something this year. There isn’t much to say except do not expect most of the Chiefs starters to make an appearance in this game. But this will be a game that may consist of a Battle of Reactions between Taylor Swift and Merianne Do.

Denver vs. Vegas

The soap opera between Russell Wilson and Sean Payton comes to an end on this day as the Broncos wrap up this season wondering what went wrong. The Raiders were so close to getting back in the saddle, and while players feel that Antonio Pierce has earned the head coaching spot, here is to hoping that ownership feels the same way. The phrase goes what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but this time, there will be madness all around.

Philadelphia vs. NY Giants

The Eagles need to win this game and hope that Washington decides to ball out in what most likely is Ron Rivera’s final game as coach of the Commanders. After dropping a must win last week against Arizona, they need to finish the season with a win and a chance to clinch the NFC East division. As for the Giants, they are sticking with Tyrod Taylor to finish off the Eagles who have already locked up a playoff spot. But do not be surprised if we have a Tommy DeVito sighting during this game. The Giants have practically nothing to lose at this point. The Eagles on the other hand??? They got everything to lose.

LA Rams vs. San Francisco

We shouldn’t see the starters much for either team in this game. In fact, the Rams already confirmed that Carson Wentz will see his first action this season as the starting quarterback. So if you got your scorecard at home, we will see Carson Wentz and Brett Maher back on the field this Sunday. As for the Niners, they are resting Christian McCaffrey due to his calf injury, and there’s a chance that most of the starting Niners might not make an appearance in this game. Top seed for them is already locked up, and the worst the Rams can do now is lose and set up a date with either Dallas, Philly or Detroit.

Dallas vs. Washington

For the Dallas Cowboys, the game is simple: Win the game, win the East. Granted, there are some that are already penciling them in as Division Champs. But have they not paid attention to what happens to the Cowboys in the final stretch? Dallas tends to screw themselves out of assured wins by getting too smug for the room. After last week, they might want to be on their best behavior because there is not many people that have their backs. They were gifted a win against a team that everyone expected them to drive into the ground. Washington has nothing to play for, so why would they be nice to Dallas. While everyone is already crowning them champs, they might want to check their previous homework assignments.

Sunday Night Slaughterhouse

Buffalo vs. Miami

The Buffalo Bills decided that they were done being pushovers. The last two teams to beat the Cowboys this year lock up with the AFC East on the line. For the Bills, they cannot lose. If they win, they get the division and get into the playoffs. If they lose, they’re out. For the Dolphins, they have to recover from the stomping they received from Baltimore last week, especially with them being the second seed currently in the AFC. A loss for them puts them in the bottom half of the bracket, but since they already clinched their spot, they would love to be the one to keep Josh Allen on the couch for the playoffs.

Monday Night Mayhem


Michigan vs. Washington for the National Championship

The perfect way to end the college football season is with two perfect college football teams battling for the ultimate prize. After months of adversity, Michigan exorcised at least one of its demons by winning its first College Football Playoff Semifinals in its third trip. After being told they weren’t good enough to hang with the true titans, Washington took its shot, said ‘Challenge Accepted’ and proceeded to knock down the likes of Oregon, Oregon State and Texas. Now both teams have something left to prove and will get that chance this Monday night when the spotlight will be on this game. Can Michael Penix finish his collegiate story in epic fashion? Will Jim Harbaugh finally get the championship he’s sought after for so long?